marksimons Posted February 2 Report Share Posted February 2 for anyone who still thinks that it's about freedom, the innocent have nothing to fear, and that America still has a right to free speech. best bit of the article:"A Secret Service agent then told us we had to go to the free-speech zone. I offered to move again, and she said there was nowhere we could be but the free-speech zone. I told her that I was already in a free-speech zone ? the United States of America ? and she ordered a local cop to arrest me. The arresting officer told me the problem was the content of my sign."Prosecuted for politics, not securityBy BRETT BURSEYGuest columnistA Jan. 13 guest column by U.S. Attorney Strom Thurmond Jr. argued that my free speech wasn?t ?trampled by the government? when I was convicted Jan. 6 on federal charges stemming from a visit by the president in October 2002.Mr. Thurmond would have you believe that my arrest, under the statute that deals with threats to the president, was simply a case of me being in the wrong place at the wrong time. I would argue that I was in the right place at the right time to take a stand against the Bush administration?s dangerous foreign policy and the erosion of civil liberties in this country.I didn?t go to the airport that day with any notion of being arrested. I went because I feared that the president was manipulating fears about terrorism to further a political agenda that I believe threatens our national security.As soon as I stepped from the crowd of a thousand milling Republicans, many carrying signs, I was told by a local policeman that I had to go a half-mile away to the free-speech zone.I moved across the main highway instead, away from the building where the president was to speak, and was soon joined by three friends who had come to protest Bush?s policies. We later learned that police gave conflicting directions to the zone to anyone they identified as a protester, and prevented them from assembling at both locations.A Secret Service agent then told us we had to go to the free-speech zone. I offered to move again, and she said there was nowhere we could be but the free-speech zone. I told her that I was already in a free-speech zone ? the United States of America ? and she ordered a local cop to arrest me. The arresting officer told me the problem was the content of my sign.Virginia Sanders, who had come to the airport that day to protest Bush?s environmental policies, was crying. She is a grandmother caring for her husband, a disabled Vietnam veteran, and is as solid a citizen as you could hope to find. Virginia?s tears and fear of her own government convinced me that someone had to take a stand for our eroding rights.I held up my sign and told the officer to do what he had to do; I was on public property, other citizens were there, and I wasn?t going to be singled out, rounded up and put in a free-speech zone.I was cuffed and put in a paddy wagon, where I watched through the bars as the president went into the hangar and told the Republican faithful that ?they hate us because we are so free.?Five months later, the state dropped their charges against me, and Mr. Thurmond had me arrested under the rarely used statute titled ?Presidential Assassinations, Kidnappings and Threats.? The statute gives the Secret Service the authority to arrest anyone who knowingly enters into a restricted zone and refuses to leave.I didn?t know anything about a restricted zone until the day Mr. Thurmond brought the charges. Everyone on the scene that day, protesters and police alike, all thought the issue was our going to the free-speech zone.Mr. Thurmond ignores what happened that day, and at previous Bush protests around the country, and says that in spite of every opportunity, I failed to prove my ?wild claims.?Mr. Thurmond didn?t mention that I was refused a jury trial, denied evidence and had subpoenas quashed.Mr. Thurmond said that I have ?even gone so far as to insist that the Secret Service conspired to violate (my) First Amendment free-speech rights by trying to isolate (me) and other protesters at a remote location so the president would not be exposed to their unfavorable message.?I couldn?t have said it better.The evidence from Bush visits across the country that the Secret Service does exactly what I allege was not considered at my trial. Federal Magistrate Bristow Marchant agreed with Mr. Thurmond that the case would focus narrowly on whether I knowingly entered into a secure zone and refused to leave. Our evidence that the Secret Service routinely violates its own protocols by zoning free speech was not considered.Unfortunately for our country, my wild claims are true. The Center for Constitutional Rights in New York has taken the case to try to bring some judicial restraint to the vague and growing zones in this country where the Constitution doesn?t apply.I believe that if I had a jury and it had been allowed to consider all of our evidence, it would have been convinced that my arrest had more to do with politics than security.Mr. Bursey is the director of the S.C. Progressive Network,http://www.thestate.com/mld/state/news/opinion/7840842.htm Quote Link to comment Share on other sites More sharing options...
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